First workshop about mobilising geoscience collections to GeoCASe

(By Tom Dijkema – Junior Software Developer, Naturalis Biodiversity Center)

Last 26-27 June, Naturalis Biodiversity Center had the pleasure to welcome 17 curators and data managers from 9 different European countries for the very first GeoCASe workshop about the technical workflow required for mobilising geoscience collections to the GeoCASe 2.0 portal. It is an important topic for improving the online geodiversity that, however, is often considered quite technical and difficult to set up. The CETAF Earth Science group is at the core of this project. DiSSCo took part in the organisation of the workshop, together with the Dutch GBIF node (NLBIF).What is GeoCASe? I hear you asking. “The Geoscience Collections Access Service is a data network and web portal designed to make collections of minerals, rocks, meteorites and fossils held in museums and research institutions universally available online, in order to foster scientific research and collaboration internationally” (GeoCASe, 2023). It depicts a close resemblance to GBIF, but fully focusses on geosciences. The web portal can be found at: and is free to use by everyone.The functionality that GeoCASe provides is fun and all, but without actual geoscience data, the portal is mostly an empty shell. This is where mobilisation workflows come into action. A mobilisation workflow, in this context, represents a set of steps required for getting data from a local CMS of an institution, into the online GeoCASe portal. There are multiple possibilities for creating such a workflow. At the workshop, we focused on creating a workflow with the least amount of technical components possible, using current available tools and not developing new ones. This is important, not only to avoid demanding a high technical level from our target audience, but also to make the workflow reproducible for everyone. As an example, CETAF created a new server with the required applications already in place, thus omitting the process of having to install these. This service is available for all institutions who do not have the technical capacity to set this up themselves.During the workshop, the participants got briefed about the steps of the workflow, and were then asked to replicate this on their local machines. These steps include preparing the data using a spreadsheet editor, inserting the database using MySQL, and mapping the data using the BioCASe Provider Software. BioCASe is a visual tool for mapping local data to one of its supported data standards (BioCASe, 2018), in this case: ABCD-EFG. Practice is an important keyword for learning the workflow, hence why multiple moderators helped out participants in a low-level, communicative environment. Interaction with the participants led to different issues and questions that were later on raised in a general discussion.The workshop resulted in the first new, prepared datasets ready to be harvested by GeoCAse. More importantly, the participants indicated to be motivated to continue mobilising new geoscience collections to GeoCAse, now that they know the workflow. To support this effort, the CETAF Earth Science Group will set up new communication channels in order to promote support and assistance from the community. DiSSCo will benefit from this effort in the future, as these data can be used for the geological foundation of the technical infrastructure. Mutually, DiSSCo will be able to run its data enriching annotation services to improve data quality, as well to function as a provider for GeoCASe, paving the way for an even more efficient mobilisation workflow.More workshops are planned to be conducted in the future, so stay tuned!

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